>Sepia Saturday 66: Drinking Friends

>Image © and collection of Barbara Ellison
“I drink only to make my friends seem interesting.” – Don Marquis
Some time ago, in The Boys’ Day Out, I wrote about a postcard photo of a group of men, presumably drinking friends, including my great-grandfather Charles Vincent Payne (1868-1941), who called themselves the “Ding Dongs.” They were gathered in the courtyard behind the Old Bell Hotel, Sadler Gate, Derby, probably in the late 1910s or 1920s.

This one, although a cabinet card, and somewhat earlier – I guess that it’s from the mid- to late 1890s – is a very similar group portrait, again taken outside what appears to be a mock-Tudor style building. Perhaps it is also a pub, although none of these men are carrying tankards or bottles of beer. On the contrary, they look as if they have been out for a stroll, or perhaps watching a game of cricket, and are in dire need of a pint .. or two.

Charles Vincent, standing at far left, slightly aloof from the others and, as always, a dapper dresser, is arguably the smartest amongst what appears to me a pretty rum lot. What strikes me first is the array of headgear, from sporting style caps with both horizontal and vertical stripes, very high-crowned bowlers (or derbys, for those reading this in North America), light and dark pork-pie hats, a possible top hat (4th from right, at the back) and something I generally think of as a curate’s hat, similar to the pork-pie, but with a more rounded top and a slightly upturned brim. Indeed the bearer of this last – seated in the middle row, third from left, and the only one of the group who has refused to answer the photographer’s request to look at the birdie – may also have a clerical collar. There are far fewer beards than might have been the case a decade or two earlier, although the majority have moustaches.

But it is the chap to the right of the cleric (or to his left) who surprised me most. I had no idea that my great-grandfather knew Oliver Hardy! Okay, I’ll admit that the more rotund of the famous duo would only have been five or six years old at the time, and besides, he was an American, so it can’t be him. Perhaps readers will recognise someone else, though?

Image © and collection of Barbara Ellison
Charles Vincent and friends, c.1905-10
A decade later and they were venturing further afield. Well at least Charles Vincent was. He appears standing at 2nd from left, pipe in hand, in this somewhat more salubrious looking group arranged outside the ivy-covered front of what may be a country inn. I have no idea of the location, but I suspect it’s somewhere in Derbyshire, if anyone recognises it, please leave a comment below or get in touch by email. I had in mind The Peacock Inn at Rowsley, a well known Peak District watering hole and starting point for walkers and fly-fishermen, but it’s not there. All are bare-headed, although two can be observed holding hats, a homburg and a boater.

Image © and collection of Barbara Ellison
Charles Vincent and friends, c. late 1920s – early 1930s
A couple more decades on, the group of drinking buddies has been whittled down considerably, and they’ve graduated to fedoras, which are not too dissimilar to what my father referred to as his “Captain von Trapp hat”. Sadly, among the many hundreds of images that came up in my “Google Image search,” not one showed Christopher Plummer wearing said hat.

Actually this last group might better be termed an “Old Gits Luncheon Club” (thank you Alan). The location is unknown, but I think it’s probably somewhere in the Derbyshire Dales – Matlock, Cromford, etc. – where CVP owned property.

This is my contribution to this week’s Sepia Saturday, where you’ll find many more old photographs of similar ilk to while away your weekend.


~ by gluepot on Saturday, March 19, 2011.

20 Responses to “>Sepia Saturday 66: Drinking Friends”

  1. >Wow…fantastic group of photos here! They all look so dapper, don't they? Old Gits…love that last one! Can't believe how tall some of those derby hats are in the first photo!

  2. >Brette : I must admit I immediately thought of my Old Gits Luncheon Club as soon as I started reading your fascinating post. I just love the way old photographs can send us on such a wonderful and unexpected voyage – a mystery tour for the senses. Your post, as always, is quite fascinating.

  3. >The variety of hats is what I found most interesting about the first photo. This made me wonder where the hats were when I saw the second photo.

  4. >The first one is a fabulous collection of hats with men under them. Interesting to see the progression over the years too. Those high bowlers are fascinating.

  5. >What would the cost have a round been in those days. If you had to go out with this lot you would have been under the table before everyone had bought a pint. By the time the Old Gits had thinned out you might not have had the capacity.I've had a pint or two in Derby; thanks for bringing back the memories with this great group of photos/

  6. >What lucky fellas to have stayed together over the years.

  7. >The Ding Dongs at the Old Bell Hotel – has a nice ring to it. First time I heard the wonderful word "git" was in the movie Notting Hill. Hugh Grant called his roommate a git. I've led a sheltered life.

  8. >Oh, how I'd have loved to have been a member of the Ding Dongs! What a bunch of chaps! I love their hats, their clothes, their demeanour, but mostly I'd love to have been one of them.

  9. >Great post Brett, love the assortment of hats in the photos.

  10. >What a wonderful group of photos and I love all the hats.

  11. >What a bunch of great look gentlemen, with such a crazy name…but they do look as though they have a lot of fun together. Great story and fabulous photos!

  12. >CVP is very smart and youthful-looking. Perhaps at first glance his clothing makes him look older than he is. A merry bunch indeed 🙂 Jo

  13. >I just love those "Ding Dongs". I can imagine being in the same pub as them and not being able to hear yourself think. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have that collection of hats today!Barbara

  14. >Wow, these photos are fantastic, a wonderful collection to have.Your grandfather must have lived a very interesting life, and one that appears to be well recorded. This is a very interesting post, i loved seeing all the 'gentlemen' and their hats.

  15. >Thanks everybody, for your kind comments.Bob – So you don't recognise the location? Perhaps it was more than just one or two?MuseSwings – I don't know why I didn't connect the "Ding Dongs" to the "Bell Hotel" before. of course, how obvious … now.

  16. >What a wonderful collection of men, being chummy. The men's clubs were popular and this clan didn't have a building but they kept meeting.

  17. >This is such a fun series of photographs. I'm impressed that you have them! I also appreciated the details about the hats. It was the first thing I noticed in the first photo. Great post!

  18. >Thank you, L.D. and Nancy. Glad you enjoyed them.

  19. >Just found your blog. Very interesting and fascinating.The 'ding dongs' were Church bellringers, perhaps, having a day out? Their numbers diminished over the years quite naturally, one would suppose, but perhaps many disappeared in the 'Great War', too.Interesting how the head-gear changed over the years, isn't it?'The Old Bell' is still there in Sadler Gate, Derby, as I am sure you know. Still a 'lively' pub, too.

  20. >Thanks for your comment, Volie2.Church bell-ringers? Knowing what I do about my ggf, I think not! I doubt he was ever much of a churchgoer, to be honest.Nice to know that the Old Bell is still performing … perhaps I'll get a chance to sample their wares one day.

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